The law is used to control relationships between people and between people and the State. As societies change, so do the relationships and controls within them. This process of change is often achieved by law reform commissions, royal commissions and by the many other groups that play a lobbying role in society, such as trade unions, industry bodies and consumer groups.
As a body charged with specific responsibility for law reform, the Australian Law Reform Commission usually investigates questions referred to it by the Commonwealth Attorney-General. Once the Commission has investigated a matter, it will make recommendations for reform. It is then up to the Government to decide whether to try to turn those recommendations into law. Note: it is Parliament, not the Government, which actually turns something into law.
Members of the public can play a part in the reform process by making submissions on areas of law currently being investigated by the Commission. The evidence of community groups with first hand experience of people's problems with the law is particularly valuable.
Most of the States and Territories have a law reform commission or committee.
The South Australian Law Reform Institute, based at the University of Adelaide, was established in December 2010 by joint agreement between the University of Adelaide, the Law Society of South Australia and the South Australian Government. Reviews and research are conducted with a view to making recommendations for the modernisation and consolidation of the law.
Previously, from 1968 - 1987 there was a Law Reform Committee in South Australia, but there was no such body in the intervening period. Reports of the Law Reform Committee and the newly established Institute are available online on the Flinders University website.